HOME ARCHIVE 2019

Riding out a hurricane is not only dangerous, but it’s a lot of work

When the storm comes, I’m gone

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

“Since this is the start of hurricane season, and we’re running a special section on how to prepare and stay safe if one of these gets near our county this year, it’s only appropriate to dedicate this column to some hurricane topics.

I’ll say right up front that I am not a big fan of staying if a hurricane is approaching. I stayed behind during Hurricane Alicia in 1983, because my job at the Houston Chronicle required it. And we stayed again during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but that hit to the south of us far away, although I think we got the brunt of the rain.

Not that I am scared. Well, I sort of am, of a Category 3 and higher. Alicia was a Category 3, and I spent much of the night in the Brazoria County Courthouse, watching a tree being split in half. And we were lucky that the storm passed right over us, and we were not on the dirty side. That was Galveston. They got the brunt of the damage.

That was then, and this is now. Staying behind is just too much work, and I would much rather go somewhere like San Antonio and the surrounding Hill Country.

That’s what I did during Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008. I packed up the camper, and off we went on an unscheduled vacation, heading for the hills. Getting there was not that much fun, since there was heavy evacuation traffic, and we were nervous the storm could damage our home and cars left behind. But once we arrived, there was nothing to do but wait.

We cooked out, went wading in the river and swimming in the pool, ate out, cooked out again, sat around and talked, watched local TV, walked to town and kept track of the storm on the Internet.

A family member who decided to stay during Ike lost power early-on as the wind howled outside and the rain pounded the roof. I was on my laptop at the campsite looking at the latest storm trajectories and was able to text her updates.

I don’t know why, but it seems like hurricanes like to come ashore during the night, when it is the scariest. The house makes those noises never heard before. I prefer to spend a few days somewhere other than where the storm is headed and not ride it out. There is still nervousness from a distance, but I really like that distance.

I go in the opposite direction than the path the hurricane is projected to take after making landfall. If it turns eastward, I go west. It usually makes that turn, and we’re forced to take another Hill Country vacation.

And then there was Harvey, the storm that made landfall many miles from us, but the outer bands took their toll on our area in late August 2017. It made landfall around Rockport, and it was so big that there really was no place to run.

We stayed and watched the rain. San Antonio was out of the question, since the giant rain bands were moving that way, but it fared much better than us since Harvey had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Bexar County.

Also, there was no evacuation order for Harvey. But I don’t need an order to pick up and leave.
We came back after Ike to a blown-down fence and no power. It would have been better to have stayed where we were for a couple of more days. Traffic would have been lighter, and power would have been back on.

My plan if a hurricane approaches and it’s pretty obvious that we are going to get hit, is to leave. I don’t have a Plan B.

Dear reader, let’s keep our fingers crossed that we won’t get a big storm this hurricane season, but prepare for the worst, just in case. Know what your choices are should we get one headed our way and give yourself plenty of time to put your plans in place.

Whatever you decide, stay safe. Property, unlike human life, can be replaced.

(I look forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.}

john.bulletin@gmail.com.